Tale of Souls Chapter Two
I wanted to walk out the front door, and just figure out for myself what was going on. I started my way towards the door, but was stopped by Kristoff. He slapped a cloth mask at my chest and growled at me. They still haven’t told me what this pandemic was let alone anything else. I have a feeling that Kristoff’s getting frustrated that I’m not all here.
“You can’t leave the house without this on, it may not be illegal – but when you come back wash your damn hands for at least 30 seconds. The virus out there isn’t just for people like us, it’s been killing people for fucking months.” Kristoff popped a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket and patted my shoulder. “It’s 2020, and Covid’s a Bitch.”
“Cov.. What?!?” I’d heard… maybe this? I Don’t understand what sort of wasteland we’re living in. I just want to fucking leave the house to find out what this protest is all about.
“Sars Cov-2. Or Covid 19. It’s … hilariously more dangerous to people WHO ARE NOT HUMAN – And you’re no longer human. I assume you remember that much HONEY.” Sai blinked at me and puckered his lips, faking a southern USA accent. I think he’s been watching too many snapchat and tiktok videos on his phone.
“Barely, but yes. So.. like what is it?”
Naming it doesn’t answer it, shaming it doesn’t solve it. You’re not telling me exactly what is at stake here, what it is and what it does.
“Pneumonia on crack, variant and deadly.” Sai looked me straight in the eye, “It’s even more deadly when you’re not human. Walk out that door without a mask and your son won’t have a papa to come home to.”
Son?!? People are lucky that I can take a ping or two of pain, but that shocked me to the core for a moment. Memories are still missing, memories keep changing – but a Son?!? Did I get a girlfriend? I’m still concerned about the “not human anymore” aspect, i mean i’ve been tested on – and i’ve had shit done to be but? Nevermind, I put the mask on and I walk outside and gather my bearings as the sun shines brighter than it ever had before. I shade my eyes for the moment while I fumble past a few houses. I grab my sunglasses and get stopped at a road barrier two houses north of the protest.
“You’re masked, so you must be part of the wrong side of this.”
“What do you mean?!?”
I have a mask on, let me fucking see what this protest is all about. There seems to be some resistance to the fact that I’ve not only got sunglasses on, but that I’ve got a mask on. They started fumbling around as if I were some form of quarantined brigade or something.
“You didn’t vote for the resistance, you voted for the problem.” The unmasked individual at the barrier snarled at me and pushed me – or rather attempted to push me backward. “We don’t allow your kind around here.”
I’m white. As far as i’m aware i’m human, and while i’m not trying to throw my privilege around – it’s not like i’m in a dangerous part of a city as far as i’m aware. The individual in front got crazier, grabbing my right arm and pushing my sleeve up. Dead in the middle of winter and all I’m wearing is a hoodie and jeans, but y’know – that’s me. They reveal my ‘mark’ – my tattoo that proves which one of the three I am. It wasn’t a tattoo that was given to me, in some form or another that mark was there since I was born.
“You’re one of those defectors!”
“What, it’s just a tattoo – I don’t get what you’re on about.” I shrugged and looked as innocent as possible as I took my sunglasses off not realizing what my eye color could or would be rather than should be. “I mean, I’m just curious what this protest is about!”
“It’s about your kind infecting us with an unknown fake ass microchipping virus that you created with the Mexicans and the chinese!” They were serious, deadpan serious. They were so committed to the racist bullshit they just spewed that they also just pulled a gun on me. “Move away now, or you get the bullets.”
“Ok, ok ok. I didn’t mean to come here to offend, I was just curious.” I started to back away, but things started to get blurry. That headache I said I had? I must’ve assumed wrong, things are starting to move out of focus and I’m losing my footing. Did I get shot? Did they do something to me? It’s not like it’s a migraine either, there’s no more pain – but i’m falling backwards into what feels like a pile of feathers.
My eyes are fluttering, I’m trying to get a hold of what’s going on – because I still haven’t figured out what was going on before. All I did to leave the house was try and get some fresh air. Fat lot of good that fucking did me. Is there anything else that’s gonna kick me in the balls before the day is over?
Besides whatever just kicked me?
“Justin, get up.”
I feel like I’m either on snow, cloud nine, feathers or something entirely comfortable. Unlike before, which was hitting my head on my 9th grade algebra desk – and then waking up on the floor of a house which I could only assume is the same house I grew up in. What is going on, and why can’t I stay still?
“ Wake up, you’re running late for class, and if you don’t get your ass out of bed so help me god i’m telling Izuchi.”
The voice … well again, is familiar – but it’s a female voice. It’s the voice if you would’ve asked me in the last two hours, was the same voice I had before I fell back over. But if I’m going backwards in time, sideways and through a rollercoaster and like a VHS tape getting rewound and re-recorded so many times it’s a corrupt hard drive… Then that’s not my voice anymore.It was mine. Once.
I tried to move, but something was on top of me and it wasn’t just a blanket. Something or someone was holding me down with something until I started to open my eyes.
“ GET UP OR THE BUNNY WILL EAT YOUR FACE OFF FUCKER! “
Ok, nevermind. I’m safe, I know exactly what mindset just did this – and how to survive this. Try to open at least one eye, and act like you’re gonna get eaten by a toy that used to be your father’s. That bunny has nothing on boy strength – right? I’ll survive this one right? I’m joking … right?
I tried to open one eye, but got mauled by the rabbit before I could even open my mouth. I started jokingly flailing. I don’t know what time I’m in, how old I am or – even my “attacker” – if you could even call her that. I do know that even if I was 38 years old – and if we still had that rabbit, and this “attacker” was still around – I’d be doing the same thing all over again. I am feeling like I can laugh, which is a good thing.
“EAT HIS FACE BETSY – EAT HIS FACE! “
“OK OK OK OK! I’m getting up” I started laughing, and carefully put my hand on the stuffed rabbit’s face. “I’m sorry, I forgot to set an alarm.”
“It’s ok, Mike was around earlier to tell me that you’ve been experiencing the visions again. I have to say I’m a little bit jealous.”
“Lily, don’t be. I just got mauled by a right winger before waking up to get re-mauled by a bunny.” I sat up and grabbed the bunny and held it. Yea, no please hold the toxic masculinity – I was assigned female at birth, and while I’m happy I’m not female anymore – the choice wasn’t mine to make. That rabbit is just as much mine as it is Lily’s – and in this moment where my head isn’t clear – and it’s not safe to hug your female self in front of you – because you might fuse with her and kill her… Holding the rabbit is just, much safer.
“Actually that sounds kinda funny. Did you tell him you are transgender and that you used to be a girl and they pulled a gun on you? Cause I would’ve paid to see that on local news.”
“No, I asked them what the protest was about that I saw – and they pulled a gun on me. I don’t know if they pulled the trigger because before I could reach to see if I was shot – or if they even bothered to shoot me, I fell over.” I rubbed my eyes and turned to see what was around me. A bunk bed situation, a table by the bottom bunk that I was laying on. The table had our old alarm clock from high school, that thing lasted ten years before it busted – so that’s no indication.
“If you’re wondering how far back you woke up, there’s only been you. I had to be told about any others in case it came up in conversation.”
“Ok, here’s a question. Are you legal?”
“For what? I’m over 18 – so i’m not fucking you.”
“I MEANT FOR BOOZE YOU IDIOT.”
“Not yet, tomorrow.”
“Wait, it’s THAT SPECIFIC – not just some random point in time – but the day before we hit 21?”
I raised an eyebrow and motioned for Lily to move away for a moment to get a better picture of what was up and down. I managed to hit my head on the bunk above me, because I forgot that I’m six foot two – and not five foot five. Either that or it’s just genetic – my dad’s always hitting his head on shit so I guess it runs in the family?
“Oww. Oww.” I rubbed my forehead and tried again, this time was a charm – mind you it was the third time because the second time I hit the back of my head and scrunched a finger trying to prevent me from hitting my head again. “Yea, ok that’s – not helping.”
Lily started laughing at me, rolling on the floor giggling her head off practically. The way you can tell this is the same person as me? Giggling fits this bad also comes along with a string of farts, not just because we are intrigued by potty humour – but because we have bad eating habits. I mean, according to this time we’re only 20, almost 21.
“Stop laughing.” I was laughing too, of course. “Apart from, like … tomorrow being our birthday has anything else gone wrong or not wrong?”
“Apart from the fact that between Mike’s bunny hopping, Izuchi telling me things I didn’t need to hear until I was 35 – and now knowing there’s a whole QUADRANT of aliens that reside on Earth and they could be anyone?!?” Lily raised an eyebrow and crawled over to the table, which was also a small set of drawers with a cupboard attached. “I mean look at this photo I found in Tensei’s room the other day. Who the hell is this?”
“Oh fuck.” I looked at the photo, and knew who the photo was. I snatched it out of her hand and studied it more. The problem was, I now know why we were losing the war. It wasn’t a war you fought just one battlefield, it’s a war being conducted across several aspects of space and time. I mean for fucks sakes, there’s a whole MMORPG that mimics this theory. Except I can’t scream “Cid, i need to use your airship and nope the fuck out of here” evertime I come into something I don’t like. This wasn’t just any old photo of an alien, or individual that comes from the quadrant in question. It was actually a photo of lily ten years from now. One of the last times I saw her before everything started going to shit.
“What’s… what’s wrong.”
“There are some things I can’t tell you right now. You should put this back as soon as possible. It’s not even meant to be where you found it.”
“It’s from the future isn’t it.”
“Yea, someone’s … planting shit in places. We’ve been fighting a war in the future, but it seems like we’re only the endgame fighters. That this war’s been being fought for centuries and all over different universes and shit.” I handed the photo back to Lily and sighed. “That much I can tell you. At least until you find out I’m not the same me and..”
“No I know you’re you, but I know which you are. You’re not this time, you’re another time.”
“You’re not lying to me, nor are you leading me astray. I’m not a child.”
“No, but someone’s gotta look after you.”
“You’ve been doing that, each and every time you come back no matter which time you are – you’ve been making sure I don’t know too much.” Lily smiled, she grabbed a notebook from out of the cupboard. “I have however broken a cardinal rule about this – and had you all sign the guestbook!”
“That’s not actually a bad idea” I laughed, she figured out a way to track how often this is happening. Because for sure I don’t usually remember much after I’ve woken back up. The thing is I don’t know if this is the same timeline that I’m from. Or if more than one timeline still exists. I mean Crisis on Infinite Earths may not even exist anymore, and DC Comics may have gone rogue and never published that! Not that it was a scientific research paper, it’s just that Flash Point was a prominent story – and I never read nor watched anything about it until I was in my thirties. So for me, or in this case – Lily to pick up on it, and track my whereabouts at least in a small format is extremely smart. “You’ve even got small details that aren’t heavily important to the timeline. Smart!”
“Yea, it’s not all my idea.”
“Let me guess, you have a library full for Mike.”
“What do you .. mean?!? “
“Oh, I thought….” Shit, does she not know about Mike’s soul bonding, and his tendency to ACTUALLY physically “hop” through points in time?
“Mike doesn’t talk to me that often, so I don’t get what you mean by library. Izuchi won’t let him near me.”
Izuchi, that name should be utterly familiar to me – but smacking my head three times in a row seems kind of like knocking shit into left field. I stare blankly for a moment and realize I don’t even remember who this Mike guy is despite saying anything. I groan out of frustration and rub my eyes for a minute.
“Izu, you know.. The teacher that saved us?”
I didn’t respond totally, I just – I made a sigh and laid backwards onto the bed and started rubbing my head. I was losing my marbles because I was settling into the time. This happens, it’s called I’m settling in where I’m supposed to be. I start losing memories of what just happened the last three times.
“Justin, are you sure you’re not from this time – I mean you’re unable to figure out certain things yet you’re trying to talk like you’re one of the other kinds.” Lily punched me in the knee and thwapped me in the shin with the guestbook. “I mean i didn’t even get you to sign this, and the last time this happened was three days ago!”
“Hang on, you got… you’re onto something.” I bolted up and grabbed the guestbook and noticed who all had been signing it. Since she’s had it there’s only been six pages, and they’ve all been her handwriting. “Wait, you lied.”
“No, I didn’t insinuate that anyone signed it. I’ve got six weeks of data and at the stage I started this you assumed like you did now – that It was everyone back and forth.” Lily rolled her eyes at me and pointed to a specific page. “This was three days ago, the last time you bonked out like this – inbetween you’ve been totally fine. But by totally fine I mean a complete and utter jerk to me.”
“Hold up what?”
“We don’t usually get along.”
“No seriously, normally you just roll your covers up over your nose and swat the alarm clock. This time you forgot the alarm clock, acted like you’re older. Which yes, i know i’m aware for a moment you thought you were – thinking you were someone else. I’m not insinuating you’re batshit, I’m telling you that that’s the only way I can prove to Izu what’s going on.” Lily sighed and shut the guestbook and handed me some clothes.
“Get dressed, we’re skipping class to go see the headmaster.”